Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Are Bicycle Lanes Good for Bicyclists?


Researchers have just found that designated bicycle lanes do not effectively increase the distance between a passing car and the bicyclist.

This recent study in an urban environment found that there are more significant variables than the presence of a bicycle lane that affects the overtaking distance between vehicle and bicycle. These important factors are:
  • Absolute width of the road
  • Nearside parking
  • Opposing vehicle traffic
Not surprisingly, the authors identified a larger "unknown factor" that affected how wide of a margin the driver gave the bicyclist. And that factor is (drum roll)..... the driver.

So, what can be done? Possible ways to improve bicycle safety in traffic include:

  • Make roads wide enough to handle both vehicle and bicycle traffic
  • Promote a driving culture that respects bicycle riders
  • Limit parking to side-streets

Cycle Lanes: Their Effect on Driver Passing Distances in Urban Areas

TransportVolume 29, Issue 3, 2014Special Issue: Special Issue on Travel Demand Management